Uzbekistan Samsa (Flaky Baked Meat Buns)

August 25, 2022
2 Ratings
Photo by Mandy Lee
  • Prep time 2 hours 35 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • makes 6 samsa
Author Notes

Samsa is a very popular Uzbekistani street food that takes on many different forms and shapes, but in general, it's a combination of very crispy, flaky dough with meat fillings that are baked in a tandoor oven. The dough utilizes a lamination technique that is simple yet extremely effective, yielding a crust that is buttery and layered, yet sturdy and crispy. It is a perfect, well-designed cocoon for its uniquely textured and supremely juicy meat filing flavored with solid lamb fat. This is a recipe that is going to take practice to perfect but is so well worth the effort! I like to mix 2 parts sriracha and 1 part tabasco as the dipping sauce. Leftovers can be brought back to flakiness by reheating for 10 to 15 minutes in a 400°F (200°C) oven. —Mandy @ Lady and pups

What You'll Need
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Uzbekistan Samsa (Flaky Baked Meat Buns)
  • Dough
  • 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup (155 grams) water
  • 5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup cup water
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Filling
  • 11 ounces (310 grams) beef or lamb, with 30% of it being solid fat (<em>Note:</em> If you aren't able to find solid beef or lamb fat, you can use pork fat as well.)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (or 1½ tsp salt + 1 tsp MSG)
  • 2 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  1. In a stand-mixer with the dough hook attachment, mix flour, salt, and water over low speed for 10 to 15 minutes until very smooth and elastic. If kneading with your hands, you'll need to do it for about 30 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and wrap with plastic; let rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the beef or lamb (not the solid fat) into large pieces, and pulse in a food processor until the meat is broken up into uneven sizes. Transfer into a large bowl, then hand-cut the solid fat into 1/4 inch chunks and add to the bowl. Add fish sauce, chicken stock, cumin, black pepper, allspice, and baking soda, then mix with hands until the liquid is absorbed into the meat. Push the meat mixture to one side of the bowl, then pulse the yellow onion in the processor until finely chopped, and place it into the other side of the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until needed. Add the onions into the meat right before stuffing.
  3. Dust cutting board and dough with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Roll the dough into a large, very thin circle that is 23 inches (60 cm) in diameter. Brush melted butter on top, all the way to the edges, until you have an even layer. Fold the dough in 1-inch-wide (2.5 cm) increments from one end to the other (try to avoid too many air bubbles inside) into a scroll-like formation. Next, fold ⅓ of the end of the scroll over on top of itself, and the other ⅓ over. Wrap with plastic wrap and flash-freeze for 30 minutes, until the dough is cold to the touch but still pliable.
  4. Heat the oven to 410°F (210°C) with the fan on, or 450°F (230°C) without fan and place a textured baking sheet on the middle-upper rack. I recommend baking the samsas slanted or vertically like they do in a tandoori oven, which will yield a prettier product that looks closer to the real deal. Spread two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil to create a shallow, 1-inch-deep (2.5cm) "gutter" on one edge of your textured baking sheet to catch drippings. Place a wire cooling rack on the bottom rack of the oven, then place the baking sheet on top of the cooling rack with the top resting against the oven wall at an angle.
  5. After 30 minutes, divide the dough lengthwise into 6 equal portions. While they are still cold, individually roll each of the 6 pieces into 6-inch (15 cm) circles, with a 1-inch (2.5 cm) outer margin rolled out thinner than the center (as thin as a dumpling wrapper). (Note: You can prepare the dough up to this step one or two days ahead of time. Keep each circle separated with parchment, wrapped with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge until needed.)
  6. Divide the filling into 6 equal portions. Place one portion of filling in the middle of the dough, then bring the 2 o'clock corner towards the center and 10 o'clock corner over the top to make a waffle-cone looking shape. Pinch the seams to close, then bring the 6 o'clock corner upwards and pinch to close it. Repeat until all samsas are formed.
  7. Mix 1/4 cup water with 2 tsp sugar inside a shallow plate. Carefully remove the preheated baking sheet from the oven. Dip the seam side of the samsa in the sugar water, then press it gently onto the hot sheet, including the pointy tip. It will instantly stick. Brush more sugar water on the samsa surface, followed by egg wash, then return the baking sheet back into the oven, slanted or laying flat. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. Cool samsa for 3-5 minutes on the baking sheet. Use a butter knife to firmly but carefully make small jabs along the bottom edges of the samsa until they break free from the sheet. Remove and cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before serving.

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